final days of 2013...

Does one even have to ask how Christmas went?

Grandchildren can get grandfathers to do things wives never could. There may or may not be photos of me in a mask but so far, Gage does not have a FB or Instagram account and I am relatively safe. Pops, on the other hand, was not so lucky.

This year, I have became aware of the Christmastide. It is defined as a Christian festival observed from December 24, Christmas Eve, to January 5, the eve of Epiphany. I always knew I loved this time. A quiet time. People are, Out Of The Office, and not coming back for a good long while. Even those who are working, seem to be in a fog. This year is the first year that Apple has does it's 12 days of gifts for in the US. Today it was a Justin Timberlake download, fabulous for me. It is funny the things that come your way, sometimes over and over in new and different ways. I am joyful for this new celebration, even without Apple's contribution.

Going to walk through these days with my head up and heart open. Let 2013 show me what out and then I will make friends with 2014. No need to rush, we have all the time in the world. See you next year and enjoy these last few days. May God bless us all...

last candle, Love...

There is not a more universal relationship than Love. While we each have shared and have common knowledge of Love, to define it is impossible. Whether from God, each other, nature, creativity, or any other possible venue, we know yet Sometimes, don't have a clue.

From where to find it, to how to keep it. It is in music, in a flower and most definitely, in an ice cream cone. It may come in the form of a hug, physical or emotional. It can come in an instant and be gone, in the same amount of time.

We always look for it yet miss, many an opportunity. We are champions of love, yet believe it is elusive to us. It is in everything, yet untangible. We are hopeless romantics and while we may stumble and fumble, we continue to look for it because when we find it, we are in utter bliss.

May God's Love cover you this Christmas Season. May his peace flow over you again and again. May you know bliss, extraordinaire.

The giving tree...

Pray for Anthony, said the tag that was handed to me by my girl. We were at the Christmas Giving tree at her church, where you pick an item to gift someone for Christmas. Her husband had seen it, gave it to her and she handed it directly to me. Is this for me?, I asked. Yes, she said.

Pray for Anthony was the Christmas request. Nothing else. No toy, lotion, bathrobe or book. Just pray. I know why my girl gave it to me, who has more time than I? Not many.

Then, I took a glance at the tree. About a foot from the top, no other tags around it and seeming to have a halo-like glow, was my ornament. Cleaning supplies, it said. There is was all by itself, no completion what so ever. In the midst of Target gift cards, and tires was this one. This was the last week to take an ornament, yet this one was still there. Not the most exciting gift to give but for whatever reason, it seemed to be waiting.

I now have a Christmas bag, filled with cleaners, cloths and sponges, ready to go. oh, and a bucket. Everybody needs a bucket.

Merry Christmas F#2, may your days be merry and bright this year...

Dear Affordable Care Act,

Thank you for your interest in me. After multiple attempts, I gave up trying to contact you. In the first month, I was told by a professional that I could fill out a 160 page written application and that after further review, you would process it. I decided that was 1 week of my life that I couldn't get back and I exited.

Two months later, I tried again. This time with a navigator. She was all of 12 or 13, barely out of high school, high energy and we whipped through that application like no one's business. In the end, it seemed like I might be one step closer to not being homeless if I broke a leg. I was overjoyed. When I got home, I realized I had forgotten to add in some new income and I went back into my now-completed cases and tried to change edit my Life Change, like little Miss Tech had showed me. The error message I got said to check back next month to make a change. This didn't seem right so I decided to call in the Big Guns and get a live operator to help me. She told me I would have to delete that application, that no changes could be made and start a new one. She walked me through the deletion process. It didn't work. Neither did it work when she tried to delete it, or her supervisor. Finally, they told me to just start a new application and when Blue Cross called to finalize the paperwork, to tell them no. I was told that lots of people have four or five open apps, it would be fine.

So 45 minutes later, new application is done and the changes made, time to look at my options. To keep me from paying a $95 or 1%, which ever is most, it was going to cost me $2613 dollars to avoid the penalty tax. On top of that it would cost me $5513 before you would consider paying any submitted bills. The good news is that after paying $11,313 for the year, I would have met my maximum out of pocket copay.

I am sorry, ACA. I can't afford your less than generous offer. No way in hell.

It does worry me that there is a completed application out there Somewhere with my name on it but one thing I know for sure. With no credit card information and my 3 digit code, That baby is going anywhere. Sincerely, Zalaine

Third week of Advent, Joy...

Joy, a feeling of extreme happiness or cheerfulness, especially related to the acquisition or expectation of something good.

So, by definition, one doesn't have to have said item/feeling/guarantee but only a thought, or expectation of said, joy bringer. The difference between happy and joy, is bigger than it would seem at first glance. Joy is always, happy is temporary. Happy is an emotion, joy is a process. Learning the difference between the two, changes who we are, at our very core.

I Peter 5:10 says, And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. Those words bring joy to one who is able to receive them.

For 28 Christmas's, Jesus was not, the Reason For The Season. He was nowhere to be found. I was more than fine with that. Santa was my rock, my source of happiness and he did a mighty fine job. I might have described it as joy but in the true sense, it wasn't the love or gifts of Santa that brought joy. In the 34 Christmas's after that, Santa was still there but it was the first time I recognized the difference between happy and joy. I had a hard time separating the two and incorporating them both into my life but with years comes the experience of understanding you don't have to figure everything out. Just be.

It is joy that makes it possible.
It is the joy that keeps us hanging on.
It is quite simply, the promise of Christmas...

Sandy Hook...

Already a mental image comes into your head. I remember I felt physically ill when I realized the scope of Sandy Hook and Newtown. While I will not pretend to have an idea whatsoever, of what these parents and families have gone through, I can ache with them.

They want no ceremony tomorrow. They have asked residents to put a single candle in the window. While many will be trying to make up for having a week less to Christmas shop, these people, will never have that issue in the lives, ever again. So we and the media will respect their wishes. A candle in the window and a hope for us. For the world around us, for what is to come. There have been 172 children, under 12, killed by gunfire since Sandy Hook.


I am not sure we can do a better job of protecting our children, over 50% of those 172, were killed by someone they knew. Will this ever change with or without legislation, has yet to be seen.

Sandy Hook, we stand with you tomorrow. I pray for you and what you have had to bear and the empty chairs and years ahead of you. We will light our candles and think of you. May God our himself over all of you, more than you can handle. Covering each and every one of your hurts that this side of heaven, will be your legacy. Bless your all...


I am not ready for snow and I am most certainly not ready for -10 weather.

Look at the calendar, two more weeks before winter starts. Can't you read????

It really hasn't got anything to do with the calendar, deep down I know that but is feels so wrong. We all sing, I Am Dreaming of a White Christmas but I mean, for that day. Change is a cruel yet part of the design, master. I need to see that change is necessary, like Coach Pete talked about today. I don't exactly know why but when I heard he was leaving Boise State, I was sick to my stomach. AS it became real, I still find myself, up in arms with my emotions.

But he is right. Whether we like it or not. Maybe instead of fighting change, I might try to see the good that may come out of it. Whether for Boise State and all of us that bleed blue or the snow, time to embrace the daily Big and little changes that come our way. Made myself go out in 9 degree weather and take pictures of the snow, right from my driveway. Didn't even put a coat on and I got a shot of this guy. At the end of fall, comes Old Man Winter. He asks no permission and offers no apologies. I would do well to take a few lessons...

The second week of Advent...

has to do with Preparation.

Women spend most of their lives, preparing for one thing after another. Mostly, we have it down to a fine science. We know what we need to do for our families and spend many hours, sometimes many, many hours, getting ready. We may not get it all done, but we will die trying.

The preparation of Advent is about opening your heart, making yourself vulnerable to the real meaning of Christmas. That kind of prep takes more of us. Our time, our efforts, and our ability to Color Outside the Lines. It is about allowing the spirit of the season to take hold of your heart and make you new.

I am on a Buy/Sell/trade site. One girl posted tonight that her cousin who has four children, had her heater go out and needed help. The fire department said to get a hold of her landlord, make him pay for a motel for her and her kids. They tried, he would not answer the phone. It is past 10 pm and the temperature is headed for very low temps. Many posts later, a woman volunteered her H&A husband to come out, see if he could fix what the firemen said was broken and worry about billing later. She has a new baby and starts a new job tomorrow. With any lucky, she will have heat soon.

There are many different ways to be prepared. Sometimes, it means you are ready to go, on a moments notice. Sometimes it means, you are willing to take a chance. Whatever this Advent season looks like to you and however you are prepared, may the One who made you...bless you.

Hope, the first week of Advent.
Hope is what keeps us, pressing on. Hope shines even in the dark. As long as we have a sense of hope, nothing can touch us. We need hope just like we need air to breathe. Never, ever give up. We can get push down, shaken to our core, bent and bruised but hope should never elude us as long as we live and breathe. Wherever your hope is today, take it up a notch. Put it up with your Christmas decorations. Looks at it often and remember what it means. To try once more, to give of yourself, to put one foot in front on the other, that is hope and that is what it looks like. No heroes, just those who refuse to give up. You are that strong, it is in all of us, Go find and claim yours

Dear 62,

You are officially, now here. Unofficially, you and I have been trading spit for a few months. Jumping through all the SS hoops but maybe more importantly, getting ready mentally. It is hard to wrap my brain around the fact that there are more years behind me than in front of me. You are much better than your cousin, 60 was. She was a killer and would not even meet me halfway. Her way or the highway ,was how she put it.

You are a kinder, gentler soul. You are making the day a bit brighter. Dare I say I have learned a few things, or maybe just decided they were true or worth looking into. God is more of who he says he is, I can see more and more of His touch. His promise isn't to make all the bad go away, but walk with him. Coming to Him later in life, I somehow picked up the idea that he would take care of it all the Bad Stuff and by that I mean, make it go away. Silly girl, he never promised that. I was following the wrong trail, going down the rabbit hole.

Look forward to my year with you. You are a swell gal, starting today - it is you and me, Girl...Love zalaine


She read this from a little piece of yellow pad paper. She had come across her Path and she just wanted to share.

The Story of every Christian is the story of a powerful intervention by a gracious God.
The Christian Story is not a Story of moral self-improvement or mental discipline or the cultivation of religious habits or tasks.
We are not saved by the quality of our character or the purity of our devotion or the frequency of our confession or the diligence grace of our charity.
No, we were dead. And God made us alive...

I asked if I could keep the piece of paper. Not only strong words but it was written in her all too familiar handwriting. I have read several time a day since I got it, and it reminds me each time, that I am loved. Period...

Hardwired, we all come with Something. Whether the color of your eyes, or the texture of your hair - there are some things about us that do not change with experience or environment.
The rest is up for grabs. The rest is the hard part. The rest will be with you for all your days. This side of Heaven, we will struggle, cry, scream, deny, and we will be changed. Sometime of our own choosing, and sometime, not. We get to choose two we react, we get to choose if want to continue on. Gratitude brings that small voice who would have one give up, say no. I am going no further. Gratitude forces us to look at the Big Picture. It is a picture filled with hope, and love, and even more. Look around today for yours, it is there for the asking. It is worth it, and then some...

Life in the fast lane...

This year, it feels like I am being dragged by the skin of my teeth. There seems to be a big push to get to Christmas, it feels like it has been going on since October. Not a fan.

I am still in my fall mode, the colors are at the end of their season yet I got this gem today. The sun was shining and felt warm on my back as I shot up to the sky. The yellow, blue and red Moment was there for the taking and I most certainly did. Christmas has been on the retail shelves, right along Halloween and Thanksgiving, to where I almost don't notice it. It is already in full bloom. We are now shopping on Thanksgiving Day, no time to digest our turkey. They say that Black Friday may be a thing of the past. The cashier at Walmart told me when she asked her mom about Thanksgiving plans she told her, she was going shopping so they are doing their own thing. Sad, isn't it?

I don't like being shoved and pushed.
I don't like being told when and where.
I can't imagine tripping over Thanksgiving to get to Christmas.
Not now, not ever...

Thankfulness journey 2013...

Part of learning to be available and fluid, is you never know where it is going to lead you. I had an idea of what I wanted my 30 days of Thankfulness to look like this year, but we have gone completely off my chartered course.

This year, I am no posting my daily thoughts on what I am thankful for one any particular day. This year, I am keeping it close to the vest. Not sure why, but some years are like that. This one is leading me to take photos and to study them. Several had brought me to my knees. The detail, the single focus seem to be the theme. To see what I see, and not always looking to what is ahead. It is all about the photos this year and if you know me, I really am not much of a landscape photographer. I prefer people, people doing things and not looking at me. The whole street photo thing but this year, the leaves and the buds, are speaking to me. I am going to go with the flow, travel down its highway with all the dips, turns and wherever it takes me. I have the time, I have the ability and I am, the least bit curious...

creative traffic jam...

The location that we chose to take DD and her friend's family photos needed a traffic light, last Sunday. Touted by the weather liars as the last nice day this year, and since, having had two more, we all ran out with clients and family, to get the deed done. It seemed no matter where you stood, someday else's face was in your photo. At times, I was back to back, with another photographer. More than a few shots, have extra people in them.

This artist and her friend were there at the beginning but them I lost track of them. I imagine they might have been a bit more irritated with all of us and were just looking for some peace and quiet to do their thing. They were in a prime location, by the water and maybe, they felt the pressure. We, creative types are a bit fickle. When want what we want, when we want it. Maybe you don't have to be creative to feel that way, perhaps it is common to all of us. We tried to be polite, and stay out of other's photos. One gal set up shop and had clients, coming and going. The rest of us, just winged it.

We would later move to another location. This time, we had to share the space with fishermen. We never saw any actual people until the end so the only obstacles was shooting around vehicles. I think we got what we needed. After a couple of hours, we were ready for ice cream. Creative or not, you got to know when to fold em...

if you just smile...

Smile though your heart is breaking
Smile even though it's aching
When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile...

Most of us can only handle one thing at a time. We are a single focused people and when we have to multi focus, we tend to get frustrated and sometimes, find ourselves in trouble.
You can't tell from this picture if it was taking out in the beautiful Idaho wilderness or in a row of trees in a subdivision. This is how we see.
The One who made us, sees it all. The subdivision ( yes it was in a subdivision), the city, the town, the country and past. We see a little portion and base the many decisions we make everyday on that myopic view.
We weren't meant to see it all.
We were meant to trust in Something bigger than ourselves.
Enjoy your view, and trust in Him...


No longer in Upward basketball, no more prayers before a game. No more everybody play nice, this is Big Boy basketball and he is ready. Twice the practice time and games last much longer. The civility is gone and just like Real Life, it is time to step up.

Boy, they play rougher. Kids are bigger and now, there is a real score. Somebody wins and somebody loses, just like Real Life.

He loves it. He is fast. He knows that some of the kids are bigger but he most certainly understands that fast can overcome, tall. There were harder hits, the rules make for tougher ball. Us moms cringe with every boo boo, the men don't even blink an eye.

The only kid on either team with long hair, he is easy to spot but hard to keep track of. He is growing up. Heading for 12 but is much, more mature for his age. He is our light, he brings sports to all of our attention and he is ready to go so we are going to hold on and go with him. This boy, has grabbed all of our hearts and run away with them.

When someone had thrown the ball out of bounds, he marched up to the ref right before us and said, I traveled. No whistle was blown, no one knew except him. The ref thanked him for his honesty and there were a few parents around us that caught on too. One big burly day, said that was cool. Their reaction tells me that this doesn't happen a lot. I am sure it doesn't but they haven't met Gage and in about 8 games, it will be obvious to all that this is some kind of kid. Is there a place for him in Real Life basketball, you better believe it. Watch out, here he comes!...

Thankful for the things that didn't happen...

Sometimes, I am thankful for the things that didn't happen in my life. Often I thank God that I was not a young widow, trying to raise a child on my own. Things that can no longer happen, life's bullets dodged. I will never experience the pain of having a still born child, that will never be asked of me. As the years go by, the list gets longer and longer. I have been given the life I have and as the years go by, I understand more and more, I wouldn't trade with anyone else in the world...

Thankful 2013...

I loved doing the Thankful journey for the month of November last year, that I am doing it again. Before things get cray, cray and retailers have visions of my dollar signs and how to get them, dancing in their heads, I want to remember to be more thankful. I want gratitude to flow as easily from my brain. to be aware of every Moment.

Will be keeping a digital journal, filled with photos of fall, as many as I can get, mixed with the Stories that come my way. They are both already, stating to stack up. Found this new place to shoot family photos and the light could not be more magical that it was this weekend. We are playing Beat The Clock, trying to get my SIL's shed built before the snow flies and it started flying on Sunday. The boys also had an hour less of daylight as we left Daylight Savings Time. It is crunch time, indeed.

Going to shake it up a bit this year. Being thankful is about understand that not only what you have but maybe, what you don't have. We tend to put everything we think in one of two categories, good or bad and we leave them there. The truth is, they can go back and forth. I know, coming from Miss Black and White, that sounds unauthentic. Sometimes, we learn what not to do and there can be extreme gratefulness in that lesson. I seem to understand and comprehend better but learning the pitfalls, and changing course. The tendency to be grateful for only the good, seems a bit short sighted and I am going to be open to exploring that this year.

This was Friday's entry,

Chocolate comes from cocoa,
which is a tree.

That makes it a plant.

Chocolate is salad.

It is day four and I am learning every day. Where each thankfulness morsel will come from, and will I catch them all. Probably not but I am good with the knowledge that I will get what I see. All I have to do is keep my eyes open...


A comedian on Bob and Tom yesterday talked about something that will ring true for most of us. To paraphrase, You do something that is good for you but then you take it too far and run it into the ground, and it turns horribly bad for you..

Does the animal world do this too or are we special? Most of us could take something, anything good and turn it into one the biggest disasters, ever. Heard about a new web site yesterday where you post selfies from funerals you attend. There was a teenage boy who selfied himself with his dead grandmother in her casket in the background. Didn't see the caption but it is not too far of a stretch to imagine there was something about granny photobombing his selfie.

YOLO. You only live once. We act like this a lot. We make purchases, decide relationships and live in the YOLO world. Not specific to any gender, or generation, nothing seems to be lefted undone. Nothing.

Had to laugh last night. DH called while we were out trick or treating last night and talked to my SIL. After telling Papa that nobody needed anything from the store, SIL told her to be safe and make good choices. It is Something that is stressed at their house and I think should be mandatory in every household.

Make good choices, YOLO...

mixing it up...

One of my most favorite mobile apps is Image Blender. You take two photos, the app does the blending but you get to decide how much of each photo shines through. Easy peasy. Just like Real Life, said no one ever.

Gage and the BSU Broncos was an easy pick. I call it, You can't take the football out of the boy. They are peanut butter and chocolate. Perfect together.

Stevie and the trees were a bit more technical. The photo of the trees was shot up, from the ground to the sky. How this photo blended so well with the beach and man, was pure accident. It is one of my favorites.

Now if only there were an app for Real Life. Image Blender for your life, give us your people, issues, problems and we will melt them together. Like they belong, and have always been this way. But alas, we all know this won't happen, isn't possible and most likely, we humans would find a way to mess this up too. Sometimes we want Something so badly, we would sell our souls to get it. Relationship that aren't working, marriages on the rocks, kids fighting and on and on. We will go one the way we always have, and hopefully, get better at it. No guarantees, no recipe for mixing all the things in our lives that we wish would just blend already. It is part of growing up, and there is always Room for that in all of our lives...

what is it about fall...

That makes us all weak in the knees? All we can think about is how many things we can make with pumpkins, with a few being edible?

It is all very magical, happens every year. We go into fall mode as if on auto pilot. No other season affects us this way. Most of us go kicking and screaming into winter and summer and those who get spring, live on the right side of their brains constantly and can't be added into the equation.

Fall reminds those of us who will be affected in a few months, that it is going to get down and dirty. The Powers That Be are predicting a big snow season for us. While I cringe on the outside, a part of me is saying, That is a long ways away. Liar.

I couldn't wait to wear a sweater yet have not put my shorts away. The hot cocoa, tea and spiced cider is now available in my kitchen and I have been dabbling, with my sweater on. We did get our annual trip to the pumpkin patch minus one. The times they are a changing and I must change too. Kids grow up and life id different. This will be our second Halloween when we split up the night. Hope to get my T or T photo before we scatter.

Yet I find myself daily playing, pin the pumpkin on Pinterest. Looking forward to a month of gratitude starting on Nov 1. I need to be reminded daily, of what I have and remember to be oh so thankful for every Moment. Anne Lamott's new book, Stitches, came in the mail today. She started this book the day after Sandy Hook. She weaves a picture of when our lives go bad, and they will, how we start by making a stitch, see if it holds and then make another. Joining piece after piece until a patch is made. We are never the same again, all that talk about closure is bull. We carry our grief forever, all held together by the patch, that gets us through another day. Thank you Fall, for the reminder that all we have is all we need. When more is asked for, more is given. All in good time, all in good time...

Little fish, Big Pond...

Most of our lives are lived as little fish in a Big Pond. There are natural periods of life where it is reversed. The last year of middle school you are a Big Fish in a little pond. You have worked your way up and get to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Yet, in just a few short months, you enter high school, and you are back to being a little fish in a Big Pond. The emotional toll is staggering. It is an, in your face, time of your life. You feel helpless and it takes some time to get your bearings back.

Later, you might find by the nature of your work, you are a Big Fish in a little pond, again. Yet when you get home every night, you are immediately thrown back into real Life which lets you know, in so certain terms, that your Big Life is now, not so big.

Most of us spend most of our days as little fish. Swimming in that big, huge pond, called everyday life. For the most part, we are happy with where we are. Sometimes, some of us get so addicted to the Big Fish life and will sell our souls to stay there. We see it everyday, people who give up everything just to keep their ponds small and manageable. They seem huge and overpowering and love it that way.

I think we were made to live in Big Ponds. I think we are better people when you can't see where the pond starts or stops. We have all tried, at one time or another, to make our ponds smaller, thinking this would be the life...Little fish, Big Pond. Where do we live?...

the light...

Nothing says light quite like fall. Whether we are seeking it out for warmth, or a photo opportunity, the light has the ability to take us out of whatever world our minds are wrapped around and into, its own. A drive around the lake, it just what I needed today. To remind me of who is in charge and that all comes from the One who made it, and me. No words are necessary, it is about accepting and understanding, the best we can. It is about us, it is about light and how it all fits together in the grand Plan. Praise God for the reminder, I am humbled by the Light...

hitting the reset button...

Resorting to connecting the dots this morning because it was a long night and he really needs to do something simple to get started again...StoryPeople.

The truth is we each are all on auto for a reset, every morning. We choose to continue or change every behavior, thought, and deed. Every morsel that goes into our mouths, and every envious or jealous bone we exercise. We may see our days as all strung together, not being able to distinguish one from another but that is not really the true picture. Change can happen but we have got to want it. More than we don't want it. Much More.

It make take many days of change. They say it takes 21 days to change a habit, they are lying. It is an every day battle. It always will be. Some days may be better and easier but it is always lurking in the Background. The minute you forget and think it is gone for good, is the beginning of your own downfall.

Connect the dots every day. If we can do that, whether we stumble or not, we are going to be better for it. I have already done my connecting and it wasn't easy or fun. Hard work, that is why we have to do it every day. Show up, suit up, and go into your day. It is yours for the asking...


From the moment we realize that we can keep and store memories, we start. There are many, many mini brain scrapbooks inside each of our heads. When we are young, there seem to be an infinite amount of hard drive space that we have only to remember to. As we get older, we find this to be a cruel untruth of life. Not everything gets saved.

Now with modern technology, every meal, ever monument, every moment can be recorded and shared. We have no issue asking a complete stranger to take a photo of us, to remember the occasion. It cements us to a time and date. Concrete proof of a moment of time, that we will never have again. There is a reason that most of think, if there was a fire at our home, most of us would grab the hard drives with all these Moments we have made. We really are a sappy people, and there is nothing wrong with that, nothing at all...

made with Love...

We all tell our Stories, everyday...

He held up a photo of his wife with a tray of cookies and proceeded to tell her Story. She bakes a cookie sheet full of cookies every day, since her first child was born. Her husband tried to talk to her. It was too expensive and they would all gain weight but she said the cost was minimal, she made the cookies from scratch and no one was over weight. More importantly, she kept baking cookies. One day she shared her Story with him.

Her father made her childhood, less than bearable. She would wait for her two siblings and they would walk home from school together, safety in numbers. One day, she went to the home of a friend and the mother greeted them with a tray of cookies. The home was warm and inviting, and smelled heavenly. She never forgot...

We each have a Story to tell and Sometimes, it is as easy as a tray of cookies. You don't have far to look to see what you do today, tells your Story. It may be as visible as this Story or it maybe, that you will see Something for the first time. Stories were went to be told and shared. This is how we learn and grow. The very next morning, I served a tray of cookies to my family. What a Story, what a life...

You are my Wild...

I am your grandparent, you are my grandchild
I am your quiet place, you are my wild
I am your calm face, you are my giggle
I am your wait, you are my wiggle
I am your audience, you are my clown
I am your London bridge, you are my falling down
I am your carrot sticks, you are my licorice
I am your dandelion, you are my first wish
I am your water winds, you are my deep
I am your open arms, you are my running leap
I am your way home, you are my new path
I am your dry towel, you are my wet bath
I am your dinner, you are my chocolate cake
I am your bedtime, you are my wide awake
I am your finish line, you are my race
I am your praying hands, you are my saving grace
I am your favorite book, you are my new lines
I am your nightlight and you are my sunshine
I am your lullaby, you are my peek a boo
I am your your kiss goodnight, you are my I love you.
from MaryAnn K Cusimano... Revised.

Clean up, clean up,
everybody, everywhere.
Clean up, clean up,
everybody do their share.

This was the closing song at Miss S and Miss B's preschool.
Everyone knew what to do during the song.
Some did, some did not.
Over the course of the school year, it got better
and by the end of the year, it was fully engrained in all.

There are several thousand kids out there who, potentially
could be elected to serve our country through the
political system, someday.

This little song, could come in handy...

We each have a Story to tell. Would imagine that 50% of everybody doesn't feel their Story is worth hearing so they never tell it. Your Story doesn't have to be fancy, complete with horrible childhoods and teen years that should never see the light of day again. The thing is there is value in every Story. Sometimes it make be hard to spot but we are all different and difference which makes us, us is one that can't be duplicated. Our lives look like a giant map of circles, all over lapping each other. There are not circles, duplicated on each other, stacking up like boxes on a pallet. Some may be similar but like every hair on our heads, no two are the same.

No one wants to sit through hours of Story. Just tell one, start there.

Pick a memory and just tell it. Practice if that would help. Write it, blog it, share it at coffee with someone. Maybe at book club, or in the parking lot waiting for the kids to get out of school. Tell your Story, don't get hung up on details, let it flow. It will get easier over time. The toughest part is learning how to share without, oversharing. That is a risk you just need to take and keep working on, refining it. The most important reasons for telling your Story isn't about you... Just tell it. Someone needs to hear it...

you just know...

Some things, we just stumble upon and they become a part of us. For me, it was photography, for Gage, it is football.

It is a natural as breathing. There is no work involved, no time to pencil it in. We are defined by it, we are known by it. This side of heaven, there are few times in life when this happens and when it does, we are forever, changed. No matter our age, it is still there. It never leaves us, disappoints us, or judges us. If we are feeling a bit down, we give it a pass and say, Next time.

Whatever it looks like to you, and you already know what it is and how it looks, let it steep. Never apologize for it is a part of who you are. Enjoy it, feel the Love...just know who you are...

the act of being...

Most of us aren't good at being, us. We powder, dab, rearrange and coverup the reality of who we are.

It is exhausting...To constantly be in the Spanx of life. To be pulled, prodded, only to find out that too much of a good thing, is still too much. We go and go and go and then wonder why we are so tuckered out. Family, work, friends, social never stops and neither do we. It has become a way of life that is hard to stop. At my house, we remind ourselves daily, that we are now on vacation. If we need to be Somewhere at a certain time, we are but the rest of the time, we are purposing to run on vacation time. Nowhere to be and no need to hurry.

The Mall... there is a natural rhythm of the flow of traffic. On weekends, the pace is a bit more brisk and one tends to want to stay the course. Some decided again that. They do not run on Mall Time, they run on their time. What they need, when they need it. I couldn't help noticing my new friend on Saturday. Don't know how long he had been there or asleep but I grabbed my camera and caught him at what I would refer to as his finest hour. The tea lady in the background watched me with a big smile. As I put my camera back in my purse, I heard her say to a customer, Look at his wife, she has a great sense of humor. Got back in the Flow and off to the next adventure. Just the way it should be...


Two sleepovers this weekend. Different as night and day. There is just something about boys. They are wild and crazy, adorable and cute, loving and wild. Love every minute with them. They explain a lot about the male human, wish I had of known all this many years ago. It is all new and yet, they have a softness about them. Hard to explain, different from girls, yet about as sincere as Love comes.

Thanks for a great weekend, guys. I love you to infinity and beyond...

men and socks...

I didn't pack his suitcase for the weekend, didn't even look to see what he brought. However, I will confess, I would have encouraged and brow beat him into leaving his Old Man, Florida socks at home and taking his ankle socks, that he always wears, instead. I thought it was a given, short socks, short pants, Long socks, long pants.

When I took this shot, I noticed the socks. Usually, the kids comment but they must have been as distracted. Believe me, they don't miss an opportunity to point out Pop's fashion choices. Later in the day, when he changed his shirt in front of God and the kids, without missing a beat, Gage said, Ok, no more chocolate.

After we got home, I asked him what he was thinking with the socks. Didn't have much of an answer but you know what, this photo would not have had the same effect on me with short socks. We think we know what we want but Sometimes, Life knows better...

Hey Soul Sister...

Because it doesn't get any better than this.

In the mountains,
no place to be,

aware of this Moment, in time

because watching your girl sing, Hey Soul Sister,with everything she's got,

doesn't come along, very often,

but this very day, this very moment, I am well aware of what a lucky girl I am...

A River Runs Through It...

At first, it may not seem like a great weekend. Black skies heading to Idaho City, rain beginning to pour and I mean, pour. Eight of us, with a tent trailer and a van. I had tried to call the kids to see if we should turn around but cell service had already blacked out. The lights weren't working on the trailer so I knew when we pulled into the camp site, we were there for the night, anyhow.

Tough night, getting everyone fed and bedded down and we all fell asleep to rain falling on the roof of our temporary home. By morning, the sun was shining and it was a stunning place to be. More rain would come but we had learned to adapt and off we went to enjoy our time away.

Did we miss the Real World? I think so, batteries ran out and iPods went dark but fishing, smores and being together was a nice thing to do, instead. You can't help but be in awe of the view around you. More aware than ever of the wonderful gift of this life and how simply wonderful it can be.

Thanks Smiths and BanjoMan for a swell weekend. See you don't have to have electricity and running water to have fun but I admit, soooo glad to be home. Let's do it again, Sometime...

Must play to win...

What have we, the consuming public, done to have this disclaimer on many products? How dumb do they really think we are?

Ever buy a curling iron with the tag that shows an outline of a bathtub, wavy cartoony lines for water and a curling iron with a circle with a slash through it? This morning, it was the Idaho State Lottery's turn. Must buy a ticket to win? Has that been an issue down at the ISL Commission? Apparently it stuck with some of those folks who decided to protect themselves from further discussions on the Must Play To Win issue.

I am not a brain surgeon but I will bet you $100 bucks that the trend will continue. Not proud of it but they may know Something I don't...


Nancy Pelosi said in Time magazine that her seventh grandchild asked her on Labor Day weekend, Yes, on the war in Syria or no, on the war in Syria?

Keaton had just turned two the summer before. He will not remember as well as Gage and Morgan who were yet to come.

I will never forget. Every Sept 11, I watch MSNBC and watch the Story unfold, yet once again. Knowing what I know, I wait for Matt Lauer and Katie Couric to understand what is happening.

I was 12 when Presidant Kennedy was assassinated. I remember very little. Too busy trying to survive the Everyday. Who was President was a low priority and later, when I realized that the family was deep-rooted Republicans, it made sense.

Anyone who was 10, should remember this day and teach it to those who can't. The hate and destruction we can have toward each other, can never be doubted or downplayed. To all those who gave their lives and those who did it willingly, I thank you and so do many more. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your service. May God bless you all...

Long time listerner, first time caller...

That may define an introvert, in a nutshell. Yet, those words would never leave my lips, yet I might live them out, on occasion.

Made a bold move last week. Heard a little whisper, and went with it. It was not a big thing, unless you are me. Some places I am bold, don't mess with my family. I have learned that God can defend him self, that is not my job. In making my bold move, I was also good about the outcome, whatever that looked liked. A dear friend use to say, all we have to do is the right thing whether it is accepted or rejected. Not our call. Our call is in doing our part.

A lots of lives get all mixed up because they are not doing their part, and doing everybody else's part. If you just had five people not doing their part, imagine the mess you would have. Multiple that by a classroom, a church, a town hall meeting. You get the idea.

We need to show up. We can't always be the listener. Sometimes, we have to step in up and be the caller. Make the bold move, regardless of the outcome. Obviously, I have listened to too much radio. Yet, you hear this line, over and over again. Long time listener, first time caller, got Something to say?

Deep Fried Snickers...

Any sane person would understand that this is wrong on so many levels. Yet, here we are. One could say, Just because they make it, doesn't mean we have to buy it. Really, Really?

This screams out to most of us on a level that is hard to explain. Read today that all addictions, start with habits. Insightful. The same can be said of the good choices we make in our lives but Sometimes, they seem like we have less of them and they are spread farther, apart.

The boys bought these at Arts In The Park. They offered to share, I quickly declined. Not because I was put off by the whole idea of a candy bar that has been dipped in the same oil pond as the french fries, nor did the idea of a gizzlion calories, stop me. I know that one bite and we would be buying more. A few minutes later, I would decide that Something Sugary was a good idea and make the choice to buy and consume.

What was the difference? What made me pass one up but turn around and make a different choice? If I could figure that out and bottle it, I would be a rich woman. We are each a mess of crazy, bringing our family histories with us, wherever we go. We are human and that means, hard to understand and impossible to figure out.

Still, I could have chose to partake of both. That common sense I carry around served me will for a bit. Will be mowing the lawn later, and mowing fast...

Who am I?

Who am I? I am Zalaine Anne Linder Hoffer.

Soon after I was born, the race for my name was on. Literally, my parents raced to fill out my birth certificate. Dad won or else you would be addressing me as Heidi.

I believe our name should reflect we really are. Whose blood flows through our veins. History would tell you that my maiden name is Daniels and my married name is Dille.

My grandfather and his younger sister were adopted out by their father when their mother died. Their father didn't feel he could raise all of the children so the two youngest had to go. My grandfather was adopted by the Daniels family. I do not know if the girl was adopted by the same family.

I am no more a Daniels than I am a Dille. I married a Dille. I took my husband's name. It doesn't make me one.

I have felt strongly about this for years. In this day of adoptions, remarriage and turning into a mobile nation, who we are is getting tougher and tougher to determine. I believe we should keep the names of our bio families for our lives. Your mother's biological name and father's true surmane. You keep it all our life. It is who you are. The blood that coarses through your veins. Your true heritage.

If I ever find myself a widow, I will change my name to Zalaine Anne Linder Hoffer. I always said as soon as I was 18 I would change my name to something that anyone could pronounce. Sandy was the my name of choice. I never did. Now, I am use to it. Would it be the same with my surmane? Maybe but I like to think I would follow through. Strong feeling about this, will see...

no bucket list...

I am not a bucket list person. There are a few things I would like to do but if I don't, I am ok with that. Ok, maybe not ok but, grown up about it.

I think being in the Moment is a better option. Always having this controlled list in your head doesn't give you much room for improve. On a whim, we headed to the drive -in movie last week. I don't think it was because summer is waning. It was just a chance to do something the kids had never done.

The truck was loaded up with chairs and blankets. Didn't know if we could bring food in (we could) so we bought popcorn there. Wanted to try the glazed popcorn but they could only pop one kind at a time and had to wait, which they estimated would be half way through the first show, before the glazed would be available. By then, we were busy swatting flies and wrapping the blankets a little tighter.

No bucket list for me...but if we ever got a shot at Disneyworld, I would be over the moon, good...

summer weary...

After a couple of months, especially this summer, the heat just takes it out of you. You have forgotten the snow, the boots, the ever present coat and can't imagine never experiencing them ever again. Tired of sweating, trying to take an evening walk and just plain ready, for a cool down.

Kids go back to school earlier and earlier. School should not start the same week as the State Fair in any state. They also should not expect to wear tank tops and shorts for the next 2 months. School starts after Labor Day, the following Monday to be exact. The crispness of fall is overwhelmingly, all around you. The first day of school outfit should not contain any kind of coat but a few weeks down the road, will require a jacket in the morning.

Part of the lushiness of fall, is being summer weary. We are so excited about the cool down, we don't even realize that in a few short weeks. when Halloween is here, we might be wearing a coat over our costumes. We humans are a fickle people, most of us must ease in, very few can stumble from one season to the next, as if it was one continuous life. We have to take it in pieces, it is too overwhelming to look at the Big Picture.

This guy didn't wake up the whole time my family and many others, walked around him. The talking of the crowd, he had obviously mastered, shutting it all out. He has learned after many years of working at the fair, you have to get it while you can. Great image to learn a good lesson.

The weather guy tells us, we are in for more of the same next week. More summer heat. Will try to keep my weariness down and try to soak it all up, while I can. Sounds like a good recipe for daily living. Tomorrow, here I come...

Wild week...

It has been one crazy, good week. Started with the state fair and Kutless concert on Monday, right into Gage's 11th birthday on Tuesday. Wednesday had a bit of a reprieve but Thursday and Friday are jamming as we spend time with Keaton while everybody else, went back to school. His turn is coming next week.

I love weeks like this. They remind you of how fast time is really going and it feels like you are making the most of every minute. The older I get, the less tolerant I am of wasting time. To me now, that looks like I am not appreciative of day ahead of me. I am not seeing the big picture and now, more than ever, I need to grab the Golden Ring everyday.

Today Pops, Keaton and I am headed downtown Boise. We will hit Whole Foods for lunch, hang out and see how the Trader Joe's construction is coming along. The day could not get better when you have a 14 year old along. He is our joy, our time together is precious.

A little R&R this weekend and one more day with the boy. Missing the other two but we will scoop them up soon and bring them with us.

Everyday is the time to say yes, go and do. Time for me to start. Happy Friday, go and do...


Sometimes, at the beginning of summer, your name got changed from Papa to Pops. At first, it took a while to catch on. It started with Keaton and then moved to Gage and Miss M. It wasn't just you but also the other Papa Steve. So both of you have been, officially renamed with little to no fanfare.

Not sure I have missed the name bullet. Grandma Sue and I may not be safe. safe but when Keaton answered the phone yesterday, my greeting was, Hey Girl! There was also a lot of Zalaine talk going on yesterday. It makes me laugh because for a long time, Zalaine was too hard for any of them to say.

Chance is inevitable and names are as fluid as anything else in our lives. The only time we have to use the name we have been given is in matters, legal. One could go most of the entire life known as Bubba and no one would question it. The first 20 years of my life, I was Nainie and to this day, if I hear it, I know within 10 people, who is calling me that.

Guess I better get use to Hey Girl, looks like it may be here for a while...

Happy Birthday Gage!

We hit week, running. With school starting on Thursday and one more birthday celebrations, we started with the Idaho Stat Fair on Monday and Tuesday, to celebrate one of my most favorite people. We wills tart early and stay late, much to do and with a kid like this, he just makes our day.

Gage, Pops and I could not be more proud of you. Your sense of humor, your wit, your sarcasm... reminds us of well, us. You are such a wonderful kid, full of all those things they always told us boys were made for and then some. When I pray for you, I always smile. God has made you into this delightful creature that we can all enjoy. I pray for your grandkids and the kind of man you will be to lead them. They are a lucky bunch, although your wife may have her hands full with you, she will be a keeper.

So, go have fun today. Will walk through the day with you and savor each moment. Pops and I love you to infinity and beyond, always have, always will. XO...

Sweet Child of Mine...

We would like God's ways to be like our ways, his judgments to be like our judgments. It is hard for us to understand that he lavishly gives enormous talents to people we would consider unworthy, that he chooses his artists with as calm a disregard of surface moral qualifications as he chooses his saintsMadeleine L Engle.

This one line changed my life. My God got bigger, my faith got stronger and my world changed and the skies opened up.

Bridge Over Troubled Water/, became a battle cry not a suicide mission. At a particularly bad season of life, (the essence of) Love Shack bought me back to corporate worship. Hard to believe.

Dusty Springfield, I Only Want To Be With You.
Barbra Streisand, Papa, Can You Hear Me?
Bill Medley/Jennifer Warnes, I Had The Time Of My Life.
Bonnie Raitt, Something To Talk About.
Black Eyed Peas, I Gotta Feeling.
Whitney Houston, I Have Nothing.

And a favorite of mine. It is my girl's ringtone. I always know it is her, and always brings a smile. Guns and Roses, Sweet Child of MIne

She's got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything
Was as fresh as the bright blue sky
Now and then when I see her face
She takes me away to that
special place
And if I stared too long
I'd probably break down and cry

Sweet child o' mine
Sweet love of mine

She's got eyes of the bluest skies
As if they thought of rain
I hate to look into those eyes
And see an ounce of pain
Her hair reminds me
of a warm safe place
Where as a child I'd hide
And pray for the thunder
And the rain
To quietly pass me by

Sweet child o' mine
Sweet love of mine

Better words for the Love of God? I think not....


Collage is not a word I would have applied to living life but I think I need to rethink it. Our lives are many, many different pieces that come and go, all fitting together in so kind of mish mash that forms, who we are. None of our pieces do we share with each other, even if there are similarities. Each experience is a brand of sorts on our person and all those experiences, define where we are going. Not who we are but our reaction to said experience. Wouldn't it be something if we look at them like we do a photo poster. 60 experiences that have crossed our path, that have made the mark and the poster because they left that mark, on our minds.

I knew when I did this print that one photo would be in color. The placement would be in the same general area but the day I submitted this to Persnickety Prints, it was the orange pumpkin in that position. The day I got the poster, I decided I would have moved it over one, to the left. That was a different day, a different mindset. Tried other colored photos, a flag, a fire truck, a tree but the pumpkin was the choice and still is.

I know the color represents Something, deep down but I don't know what or why. Whether it is a creative or a lesson placement. My favorite number is 3. It never occurred to me to have 3 photos of color, just one. Always, just one.

We look at our lives in segments, seasons but the reality is as far back as we can remember, the photos were taken. Whether we remember them or not. They are embedded, as most all music in jr high is. We couldn't erase it if we wanted to but Sometimes, we are able to forget. Not music but certainly memories.

I might do this 60 photo collage of my internal thoughts as an exercise, to understand myself better. I don't think there ever is a Time Up on learning. I want be a better wife, mother, nana and friend. I want to Love that God Loves me more than I could ever ask or imagine and remember to live like I believe it. So much to learn, time to get cracking...